Tuesday, June 22, 2004

What a Concept: Disclosure

Citizens are obviously concerned about abuses of power among elected officials, at the local, state, and national level. To prevent skullduggery, nepotism, graft, fraud of all types, the public should have a right to inspect and monitor any and all conversations and communications (whether telephone, e-mail or letter) made by elected officials at all levels of government.

Videotaping all local and state government proceedings (including Bakersfield City Council meetings, BC Trustees, school districts, etc.) should be mandatory and records of ALL correspondence should be readily available. An argument also could be made that private meetings and “chambers” conferences among public officials should be banned ; furthermore, the public’s rights to disclosure should extend to inspecting-monitoring public school administrations, the judicial business, and police departments.

Indeed, having a team of trained, competent reporters (I guess that would eliminate the Californian staff from the running) along with video and cameramen following the actions of Governator Conan is not a bad idea. One would hope that at Ahh-nuld’s private “insider” gatherings (replete with fellow "genius" members of the Ho-wood mafia) there are a few objective and rational humans present to record the conversations and activities of the Humvee King and his court.

Conservatives vs. Liberals

Many citizens don't realize it but many ideas valued by dems (and even repugs.) are socialistic in nature:

Public education, social security, worker's rights, unemployment insurance, health care, unions, public museums and parks, safe and clean work places and restaurants, even taxation: those are all fairly socialistic ideas...


On occasion I am willing to consider the leftist and marxist critique of the Founding Fathers: they were anglo-saxon males and mostly property and estate owners, and in many cases puritanical X-tians. So while TJ's Declaration is very eloquent, obviously in practice those ideas were not (and are not) realized.....


You might be quite politically confused if you know nothing about Jeffersonian ideals, nothing about statistics, nothing about economics, nothing about the environmental movement, nothing about the history of American politics, including the civil rights struggle....


The right wing, in addition to supporting militarism and greed, is always against the public sphere, and really against a notion of ethical government. We leftists and dems should strongly oppose the move to privatization while trying to uphold equity and equality in the public sphere (not necessarily arguing for affirmative action, but the right to work, home, school, health care, and decent cannabis )

Additionally. whatever may have happened to authentic marxism (most would say Stalinism was not real marxism but more fascist and totalitarian), many marxist ideas (especially about financial exploitation ) should not just be dismissed....


"Conservative: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal, who wishes to replace them with others." Bierce


I simply must work on my time management skills!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Kern County Judge overturns man's conviction on 17 counts of child molestation

(from John Johnson, LA Times, 5/01/04)

BAKERSFIELD — John Stoll had spent nearly 20 years behind bars imagining what it would feel like to hear a judge say he had been wrongly convicted. Now that it was happening, his heart was racing so fast he feared he might not survive the experience.

"I thought, 'Oh great, I'm going to have a heart attack and die in front of all these people,' " Stoll said Friday afternoon.

Hours earlier, Kern County Judge John Kelly had overturned his conviction on 17 counts of child molestation in connection with the infamous Bakersfield "witch hunt" cases. Kelly ruled that techniques investigators used to question the alleged victims two decades ago amounted to manipulation and "resulted in unreliable testimony."

Prosecutor Lisa Green said the district attorney's office will not seek to retry Stoll, even though she believes he is guilty. "I'm disappointed," Green said outside court. "You win some, you lose some."


As soon as he is able, he said, he will leave Bakersfield. That's where, in the summer of 1984, he was accused of being the ringleader of a band of child molesters and pornographers. Stoll and his friends constituted one of eight alleged child molestation rings in town, committing a litany of sex acts against children, authorities said.

The "witch hunts," as critics called them, were the first of a wave of multiple-victim child molestation cases to sweep the nation in the mid-1980s. Unlike the McMartin Pre-School case in Manhattan Beach, in which nobody was convicted, dozens of people in Bakersfield were sent to prison. Stoll is believed to be the longest held of all the convicted molesters around the country.

Stoll had long maintained his innocence, claiming there was no evidence for any of the charges. No indecent photos were ever found, and the child victims, who included his own son, were never examined by a physician. As in many of the cases, Stoll's conviction was based almost solely on the testimony of child witnesses who defense attorneys maintained had been badgered and brainwashed by overzealous investigators.

As time went on, the convictions of others around the country were reversed on appeal. But Stoll was unable to find an attorney willing to look into his case.

Two years ago, public-interest lawyers from the California Innocence Project in San Diego and the Northern California Innocence Project in Santa Clara tracked down several purported victims who are now adults. Four of them trooped to the stand several weeks ago to describe horrifying treatment, not at the hands of Stoll but of law enforcement and prosecutors. Investigators cajoled, badgered and even threatened them to convince them to testify to sex acts they now said never happened.

Several of those witnesses apologized in court to Stoll and two of them, Eddie Sampley and Victor Monge, were in court Friday to hear the judge's ruling. Tears rolled down Monge's cheek when Kelly threw out Stoll's conviction. "I'm glad and happy," Monge said afterward.

Stoll's happiness over the judge's reversal was tempered by the damaged relationship with his son. Jed Stoll, 25, testified against his father in February, repeating his allegations of two decades ago that his father molested him.

Under questioning, however, he said he couldn't remember any details of the alleged molestation. He also admitted to lying about some details in court when he was a child.

Defense attorneys this year called an expert who said young children — Jed was the youngest victim at 6 — who have been repeatedly questioned can manufacture false memories. Stoll's lawyers also asserted that Jed was under pressure from his mother, Stoll's ex-wife, who filed the original complaint against Stoll during a nasty custody battle.

"That was the only thing this day didn't cure," Stoll said of his relationship with his son. Jed's testimony "hurt me. But I can't do anything about it."

Stoll's habeas corpus petition relied on three main arguments: that the investigators tape-recorded victims but now claimed they couldn't find the tapes; that the questioning techniques were improper; and that Stoll's conviction was a result of false testimony.

Although several of the former victims remembered a tape recorder, Judge Kelly dismissed that claim after the original investigating sheriff's deputy, Conny Ericsson, said there was no tape recorder. After finding that the interviews were improper, Kelly said the third argument was unnecessary.

After Friday's decision, Stoll's attorneys hugged and cried in the hallway outside court. "I'm beside myself," said Linda Starr, legal director of the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University. "To actually see the system work."

Ironically, as the project savors one of its greatest triumphs, it is facing the prospect of going out of business. Because of state budget problems, the project has lost $400,000 in funding this year.

"There are more John Stolls out there," said project Executive Director Kathleen Ridolfi. "Unless we raise some money, this project will die."

Stoll was allowed to meet with reporters at Kern County's Lerdo jail facility. Reporters asked how he felt about his victory. "I can't describe it," said Stoll, sitting at a table in a holding area. "It's indescribable."

Kelly's ruling does not amount to a finding of actual innocence. It means simply that the first trial was so compromised that the conviction must be overturned. Stoll said it was the most he could expect after all these years, and it had to be enough.

"I'm not a child molester," he said.

One of his attorneys recounted a conversation in which Stoll bemoaned the loss of his early middle age behind prison bars.

The mostly bald head, the lined face, the weary eyes are those of a man sliding into old age. Asked if he was angry that he had to wait all these years for vindication, Stoll shook his head.

"I've got a fresh start," he said. "Let's move on."


Assuming that Stoll is in fact innocent, the prosecutors, DAs, judges and police who are responsible for sending this innocent man to prison should themselves be imprisoned and sued.

Judicial and prosecutor immunity is the height of injustice.

here's an interesting proposal: http://www.jail4judges.org/
Death of a Bad Actor-----

The great daddy figure for the US conservative horde has now passed. Yet hopefully some of us won't participate in the cheap nostalgia and flag waving.

Reagan's optimism and conservative populism was calculated and appealed to the sentimental and irrational aspects of the masses. At first I tried to think along the "nice" liberal lines: "I objected to his politics, but he was great, inspiring, heroic, etc. etc."

However, after going through some of his speeches, looking at his ugly mug (he was not handsome--he looks simian to me), listening to the conservative flag wavers go on about their lost leader, I must say I feel little or no empathy or sense of tragedy for the demise of this former sports broadcaster. The worst part is that the conservatives want to compare him to Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln. Hah.

He was far less intelligent a president (and man) than FDR or Woodrow Wilson, and I would venture to say even Nixon was above him in political and economic abilities. (not that I am supporting Nixon at all). His policies created the S n L crisis, he tripled the deficit, increased military spending to some unreal amount. His admin. helped support death squads in Central America. He deregulated necessary environmental protections (remember James Watt?) and helped develop corporate welfare.

As CA Governor Reagan was nearly a fascist, calling in tanks on protesters, stuffing the courts full of totalitarian judges, increasing police. His Hollywood connections are also I think quite objectionable, as was his and his wife's leaning towards astrology. He was perhaps a great father figure for American peasants, but for any rational human--and I would say even rational conservatives--his administration is not a model of an effective or clearly thought-out political philosophy.

I've been away for some time. (not that anyone cares). Nonetheless, the river of scum keeps flowing in Kernland. See the village.news.....
Custom Search

Blog Archive